Beautiful Things

BEAUTIFUL THINGS
by Amanda Kear

 

Characters: Thiede, OCs
Word Count: 4830
Rating: U
Spoilers: none
Summary: An old man discovers that he has skills that Thiede wants to make use of.

 

Old Mr Murthy was toiling back to his home with a load of firewood, when the Wraeththu came. One moment he was alone in the ruined street, wondering if his neighbour Santosh might have spare eggs to trade. The next the sky split open with a crack and the street was full of armed hara on huge white horses.

 

The old man cried out with fright, certain that he was about to die under pounding hooves or in a hail of bullets. The community of humans that lived here had thought that their crumbling quarter of the town was of no interest to the Wraeththu. Apparently they had been wrong.

 

But guns did not fire, nor horses charge. Most of the riders took up positions looking outwards from where the trembling Mr Murthy stood; warriors alert to threats that were more distant and dangerous than one old man with a basket of firewood on his back. One of the riders dismounted and strode up to him.

 

“You are Rhaghavendra Mahesh Murthy?” It was less a question than a statement, spoken in American accented English. The Wraeththu was unnaturally tall, with the pale skin of a European and hair of such a vibrant red-gold hue that it surely must be dyed. His – her? – clothes were neat and clean, a dazzling white in the sun.

 

Mr Murthy gave a mute nod. This apparition knew his name?

 

“I am Thiede. Which house is yours? It will be more pleasant to talk out of the sun, hmm?”

 

This flame-haired Wraeththu had materialised from nowhere and wanted to talk to him? Was he dreaming? Was this a hallucination brought on by a stroke?

 

The apparition looked at him expectantly. Mr Murthy hesitantly pointed further up the hill, to the tumbledown apartment building where he and his neighbours lived. Horses wheeled and riders pounded in that direction. He trembled. What had he just unleashed on his neighbours?

 

The one called Thiede walked towards the building, the white horse ambling along in his wake. Mr Murthy paused, wondering whether he should run…? Then wondering where on Earth he could run to, to escape horses that materialised out of thin air?

 

Talk. The red-haired one had said talk. If he was lying, at least he’d die in his own home. Mr Murthy trudged wearily up the hill in Thiede’s wake.

 

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An Army of Angels

An Army of Angels
by Mischa

Editor’s Note:

This story was originally published in the pamphlet for Grissecon, the first ever Wraeththu fan convention, back in Oct. 2003.  It was written by the creator of the original Forever web site, Mischa, who passed on duties to me several years back. -Wendy

Author’s Note:

Title: An Army of Angels.

Author: Mischa Laurent

Disclaimer: All items contained on these pages are non-profit amateur fiction. ‘The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit’, ‘The Bewitchments of Love and Hate’, ‘The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire’ and all characters named in those books are the copyright of Storm Constantine and her publishers. No infringements on the copyrights are intended. These stories are for personal enjoyment only and should be reproduced, electronically or otherwise, only for this purpose and never for profit of any sort.

Notes: This fanfiction is set in the period prior to the beginning of the trilogy and is based on quotes from The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, which read:

“What did Ashmael say when he saw you?”  I asked.  Vaysh’s glassy eyes did not flicker.

“Say?  What do you think?  A long time ago, I died in his arms.”

My thanks to my betas and editors for their invaluable assistance thus far and in particular to Storm herself, for asking me to write it in the first place.

Dedication: To my daughter, Tiffany; congratulations on the commencement of your first Wraeththu book and here’s to many more!

An Army of Angels

Part One

The breeze lifted the smoke and carried it away.  It also brought to their ears the screams and pleas of the dying warriors below.  Vaysh curled his lip in distaste over the scene and turned his head to his companion.

“Must we linger here?”

Ashmael calmed his restless horse with his hands, never taking his eyes from the celebrations of the victors below them.

“We need to see which way they go when they leave, Vay.  Can’t have them turning up on our doorstep.”

Vaysh looked downhill once more.  The celebrations showed no signs of abating; the warriors in their paint and finery gathered around one of the burning vehicles, whooping and hollering, their weapons held above their heads, while to their left, their fellows searched through the bodies, stealing from the corpses and summarily executing any who still lived.

“They look like Indians in an old movie.”  He observed, disgustedly.

Ashmael gave a short laugh.  “Someone down there probably saw the same film you did.”

**

All afternoon they waited on their hilltop for the bandits below to gather themselves and depart.  The horses grazed on the other side of the hill, tethered to prevent them wandering up into view.

Ash appeared perfectly relaxed, chewing on a stalk of grass, his long lean body laid out comfortably, but the watchfulness of his eyes told the truth.

Beside him, Vaysh contemplated the scenery, refusing to give the carnage below any more credence by witnessing.

The rolling hills to the north gradually gave way to the sharper gullies and peaks where he and Ashmael sat.  The summit of the mountain that protected them rose abruptly from the earth behind him, covered by cloud and mist, even on the clearest of days.  Within this maze of networking valleys, dead ends and sudden rises, lay the small town they called home.

Formerly an isolated human town, Basik was a home to disaffected Wraeththu seeking shelter from the tribal storms that rocked the land and had grown into a quite sizeable community, one that Ashmael was in charge of protecting.

Vaysh had little to do with the town’s defence.  He had ridden out with Ash today, merely to spend some time alone with the har with whom he was chesna.  They had seen so little of each other lately, that even the prospect of spending the day patrolling the rough hills on horseback had seemed a bearable idea.

Coming across the raiders in the middle of their murderous rampage had been the vilest of misfortunes.  Ash may well be used to such sights, but Vaysh, insulated by his duties on the council had not seen much of fighting and death for the longest time.  Not since he and Ashmael had first set out to find Basik, footsore and weary, drawn by stories of a place hidden in the hills where Wraeththu lived in peace.

“Why do they do it?”  He sighed.  “Why can’t they just . . . get along?”

The question was rhetorical, but Ashmael answered anyway.

“Because death always accompanies birth.  It’s the nature of the beast, Vay.”

It was an old argument, one they had had many times before and now as then, there seemed no fitting comeback. Still, he tried.

“I can’t accept that.”  He shook his head sadly, pale hair flying about his face like wind-whipped silk.  “We are . . . better than this.”

“Supposedly.”  Ashmael disputed.  “Not yet, though.  Not until the first throes are over.  Until there are more who think as we do and less who see this as an opportunity for profit or power.”

“Inception is supposed to burn away our humanity.” Vaysh argued.  “Har like those down there need guidance, need to be taught the proper way.  Not killed on sight.”

“Vay, your lost lambs would murder us all without even blinking.  Don’t delude yourself.”  Ashmael turned toward his chesnari, a smile on his face to soften the words.  “I know your intentions are all good and don’t get me wrong, it’s a noble cause and one I subscribe to heartily.  What we disagree about is the timing.

You want it all now; I think it is going to take time.  Time and a couple of generations removed from . . . this.”  He illustrated his point with a sweep of his arm toward the dying fires below, the bodies and the drunken, staggering hara who had caused it.

“But we can’t progress if we don’t begin.”  Vaysh voiced the argument that had been doing the rounds of the council lately.  “We have to start somewhere.”

“True.  We do.  We start small, build our numbers, then we enforce. As much as you would like to picture all the warring tribes as misguided and misinformed, the truth is that they enjoy living the way they do.  They chose it, Vay.    Just as we chose to seek a different way.  Superior strength is the only thing they respect.  Only that will make them listen.”

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Return (Coming Home)

Challenge SubmissionReturn (Coming Home)
By Ninzini

Story Notes

Short summary: A song-fic based around “Return (Coming Home)” by the Cruxshadows. Off their great album Wishfire.

Character: Thiede, Velaxis.

Spoilers: Everything up through Ghosts.

Song: You can sample a bit of “Return (Coming Home)” on the Cruxshadows “Downloads” page — use the little built-in player to scroll down to “Return” and double-click. I’ve always loved the triumphal quality of this song.

Author’s Notes:  This little fic is strongly inspired by “And The Flowers Bloom Like Madness in the Spring” & “After the Rains,” a pair of exquisite post-Ghosts fics by Camille Sinesis, focusing in on Thiede and Velaxis. That relationship, which made instant sense to me, is filled with so much poignancy and bittersweetness, to the point I wanted to touch on it a little myself.

Return (Coming Home)

Thiede gazed out across the rooftops of Immanion, out towards the harbor and deep into the distance, where the sun was quickly sinking beneath the horizon. The balcony terrace was tinted with orange-pink light. Thiede idly tapped his fingers on the arm of his chair as he waited. Waited for Velaxis to come home.

I’ve seen the terrible hand of struggle,
And felt the pain that hubris brings.
I have tasted the wisdom of divinity
And the horror of its sting.

Velaxis had spent the afternoon with the Hegemony, which was in session, and afterward, Thiede supposed, had kept himself busy working out details with individual Hegemons, striking deals and smoothing out problems as only he could. Thiede, meanwhile, had taken one of his periodical walks through the city, having lunch in an ordinary, simple restaurant and sitting on one of the city piers to watch the boats come and go. Then he’d enjoyed  long bath and a glass of wine on the terrace. There was nothing else that needed to be done.

And though they tell you I am lost,
And their words report my death is come,
The Fates have left me breathing still –
And very much alive.

Thiede decided to cast out his mind in search of Velaxis. No, he was not yet in this wing of the palace. A pity. Thiede had finished a bottle of wine and had nothing to do but wait. Such a waste of time, really, he thought to himself, although how he was wasting his time, he really couldn’t say. It was just a habit of mind, thinking that he had things to do. The days of running Immanion, plotting intrigue, puppeteering – charting the fate of the Wraeththu race –  were over. Now it was his turn to simply enjoy life and its simple pleasure. Thiede was still learning exactly what that meant.

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Exposure

Thevina Editor's Pick
Exposure
by Teapot (Camille_Sinensis)

Story Notes

Author’s email:  teapot@doramail.com

Summary:  Ashmael goes to Arahal for some lessons in self-examination, but learns more about Arahal, and the origins of Wraeththu, than he expects.

Characters: Arahal and Ashmael

Spoilers:  Nothing serious.  References to Ashmael’s history as revealed in “Enchantments”, and also draws heavily upon the short story “Paragenesis”.

Exposure

i Arahal

“I, too, killed someone once.”

Ashmael searched in vain for some nuance, some inflection of emotion, to tell him if Arahal was proud or ashamed of his admission. That he could find none did not surprise him – Arahal was a har who spurned the excesses of emotional incontinence; aloof and ascetic, he embodied the very essence of Gelaming philosophy.

To hear him announce that he was a murderer was almost like discovering that that world really was flat, after all, or that water flowed uphill, or the Tigrina was a modest, self-effacing individual who enjoyed a purely casual and offhand relationship with his looking-glass.

“It was a very many years ago.” Arahal picked up a long, ivory candle and set it in an ornate holder upon the altar. He encircled it with both his hands, not touching it, but seeming rather to caress it from a distance. A pulse of rainbow-coloured light arced across the space between his curled fingers, and a flame blossomed on the candle’s wick.

“Things were different. In the beginning.”

Ashmael stared into the heart of the flame, the pale blue centre where the light was in the process of being born before it rose to become the yellow corona above. The flame undulated in response to some small current of the air, moving in a way that suggested life. Ashmael knew it was simply an artifact; the complexity of numbers could explain it. Sometimes things were simpler than they appeared to be.

“It must have been difficult,” he said, not taking his eyes from the flame, “in the beginning.”

In the small halo of brightness, he could almost see the burning cities. The paroxysms of fear and destruction attending the collapse of human civilization. The violence and terror. A new type of creature arising from the ashes of the old, beautiful and deadly. Born in the heart of the flames. Wraeththu.

“No,” Arahal lit another candle by more conventional means, touching its unlit wick to the already burning one. “It wasn’t. At least, not until much later. In the beginning – in the very beginning, there was still order and civilization. There were still things of beauty.”

Ashmael wondered to himself how many were left who remembered those days. Very few, and fewer still who would speak of them. There was one har who would know and remember everything, but Thiede was a closed book, and even Ashmael’s legendary and reckless courage did not extend to demanding answers of The Aghama.

He was suddenly curious about Arahal. Curious to know why a har of his abilities so often seemed content play a supporting role. Not for him the glamour of Immanion, or a position on the Hegemony, although Ashmael knew he would have been a better choice than some of those currently serving on that august body.

“Tell me about it,” he demanded. “Tell me what it was like.”

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Gossip Between Friends

Editor's Pick

Gossip Between Friends
by Oshun

Story Notes

The only thing that might be more engaging than an evening of gossip between friends, might be gossip plus aruna. Contains an explicit description of aruna between Velaxis and Thiede. Thank you, Elfscribe, for the Beta. Any remaining errors or failings are my own. (Inspired by the recently closed Seel, Swift and Thiede challenge. Stands alone, but is set in the same time period and references events of my recent stories “Fated Obsession” and “What is This Thing Called Love.”)

Author’s Email: heartofoshun@aol.com

Web page: http://heartofoshun.livejournal.com/

Pairings: Velaxis/Thiede (Gossip includes references to Swift/Seel, Vaysh/Pellaz, Pellaz/Caeru, Velaxis/Ashmael; hope I haven’t forgotten anyone.)
Overall Rating: NC-17

Word Count: 3,404

Spoilers: The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Wraiths of Will and Pleasure

Disclaimer: The characters, plot, and setting all belong to Storm Constantine.

Gossip Between Friends

Another beautiful night had descended upon Immanion. I left my Sedu at the stable and quickly made my way to Phaonica. As I walked, I realized that during the past several months spent in Imbrilium, I had grown to miss Immanion. None of the more obvious reasons that might immediately come to mind contributed to my longing. I had no particular attachment to the spectacular architecture, the luxury, the services, or the other amenities. Imbrilium provided for all of my needs and then some. The work I did in Imbrilium also might be considered more challenging than what I had been doing in Immanion. Since I had developed a more personal relationship with Ashmael, the General asked me more and more frequently to attend important meetings in Imbrilium, and increasingly sought my opinion on a whole variety of questions. I should have been happy with that development.

Strains of music wafted toward me from somewhere on the palace grounds. I recalled hearing that Rue was hosting a diplomatic party of some sort. I also had missed Rue in Imbrilium. For all of his frivolity and preoccupation with matters of less than world-shaking importance, Rue had a way of cutting through Gelaming pretensions that I always found refreshing. I hoped I would be able to visit with him at least briefly in the morning before I had to leave again.

After following the familiar maze of hallways and staircases through the palace that led to Thiede’s apartment, I rapped gently on the door. Since I had overheard Arahal mention that if anyone needed to reach Thiede he would be in Immanion that evening, I hoped I would find him in his rooms. The chances he would be there alone were excellent. Thiede was not likely to insert his awe-inspiring presence into a social event organized by Rue for the purpose of giving Pellaz an opportunity to develop his own unique relationship with visitors from an outlying tribe.

Thiede called out, “Come in.” I sensed him scrambling to telepathically identify me. There were few things much more satisfying to me than surprising Thiede.

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